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Surge suppression and powerline networking

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JeffS

Occasional Visitor
Tim,

Do you have any manufacturer contacts that you could ask about surge protection in powerline networking devices? There are some situations where I don't mind if I lose link in a power outage, but a lightning strike is still a problem. You need some hefty, not-cheap transient voltage suppressors to protect against this, and the fact that (some?) powerline devices don't have a ground pin leads me to believe they are not going to be robust. Since they're hooked via a wired Ethernet cable to the rest of the system, I would totally bypass surge protection by using one, thus voiding the UPS makers' "connected equipment" warranty, for whatever that is worth, but more importantly, taking away my peace of mind.

Thanks in advance.
 
That was on my "to do" list. I'm checking now.
 
I always recommend everyone regardless of whether they have lots of sensative electronics to just a simple clock radio to install a whole house surge suppressor.

I have one installed at my main service panel that I did myself. Installation is pretty simple depending on the type of setup you get. Cuttler Hammer has a whole house surge suppressor which snaps into the panel like a regular breaker. You only need to screw in the ground wire coming out of the unit into the ground bus bar.

Since I have a SquareD panel, I opted to get on from them which is a bit more involved. The unit mounts up like an auxilliary device to the service panel. Here's a picture of the unit:

SURGEBREAKERPlus_lres.jpg


Here's the link to the product's web page:

http://ecatalog.squared.com/fulldetail.cfm?partnumber=SDSB1175C

The unit is built in a modular fashion where the power surge suppressor is individually replaceable from the cable and phone surge suppressor modules. The manufacturers of whole house surge suppressors still recommend supplemental surge suppressors at the location of sensative electronics.
 
The manufacturers of whole house surge suppressors still recommend supplemental surge suppressors at the location of sensative electronics.
So how is that going to help people who want to use powerline networking?
 
So how is that going to help people who want to use powerline networking?

If you're concerned about power surges which typically are external to the home entering into the main service panel, a whole house surge suppressor works by shunting the power spike to ground at the panel. Just think of it as a surge strip which you plug your house power in to.

ETA: The manufacturers of these devices are recommending supplemental surge suppression as a way to cover their bases. SquareD still covers damaged equipment up to $25k but will double it if you use supplemental surge suppression to $50k.
 
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I understand that. I was referring more to the statement that the manfs still recommend supplemental surge suppressors. So it doesn't eliminate the local surge strips.
 
I received this response from Intellon, maker of all HomePlug chipsets and reference designs. Looks like there is some surge protection.

"1) HomePlug spec does not address surge protection for the data port.

2) The units designed/built by our [Intellon's] customer must be compliant to
regulator safety requirements for the country in which the units are
being sold.

3) Our reference designs do comply with "Ansi/IEEE C62.41 Category B
Protection Level II" surge protection. Intellon's reference designs
contain about 30J of surge protection. Though this number may seem small
compared to the number of joules in a surge strip made to protect
thousands of watts worth of electronics, this is more than sufficient
for an Ethernet adapter and allows the adapter to be plugged directly
into the wall.

Intellon tests all of our reference designs to the safety standard that
applies to electronics devices (Ansi/IEEE C62.41 Category B Protection
Level II). We have also tested some of our devices to the more stringent
UL1449 standard that usually applies only to power strips. The devices
we tested not only passed UL1449, but continued to operate afterward
(the PASS criteria for this test is only that the devices do not start a
fire, they need not work afterward to pass but ours did)."
 
Thanks!

Tim,

Thanks a lot for this information. Maybe powerline is worth a shot. I guess I could also put a filter on the Ethernet line for some extra protection, too.

All best

Jeff
 
running the ethernet cable through a surge protector?

I have been thinking of ethernet wiring the house versus installing powerline devices. The latter is half the cost but comes with this problem of surges.

I was thinking of something that you might be suggesting in your earlier post- instead of connecting the powerline adapters to the surge protectors, how about running the cable (which goes from the powerline adapter to the computer/tivo/ etc) via a surge protector that has RJ-45 protection? Monster, Belkin, Panamax all have models that offer surge protection for RJ-45 connections.
 
Maybe powerline is worth a shot. I guess I could also put a filter on the Ethernet line for some extra protection, too.
Nothing stops a surge. A surge is a current that will flow no matter how large the dam. After all, three miles of sky could not stop it. Why would a silly little filter?

Protector was never about stopping or absorbing the surge. An effective protector connects energy harmlessly into earth. Then protection inside all appliances is not overwhelmed. Because that surge current is radio frequency, an earthing connection must be short. Either that energy gets dissipated harmlessly in earth, or it seeks earth destructively via household appliances. Safety ground wire to all receptacles is too long, too many splices, too many sharp bends, etc. (For engineers, obviously too much impedance.) All mean that third prong cannot perform as an earth ground. It is safety ground; not earth ground. Or called 'equipment ground' in code - because it cannot provide sufficient earthing.

Ansi/IEEE C62.41 is not a design standard. That is a waveform used to duplicate the radio frequency current called a surge. Devices do not conform to ANSI C62.xx. Devices are tested with that wave.

UL1449 does not say anything about surge protection. UL only addresses human safety issues. UL1449 says the device can even completely fail, but will not spit sparks and flames.

Typical surge protectors will even 'eat' ethernet signals. In the newsgroup alt.home.automation, these same problems are often discussed. Same problems also apply to X-10 controllers. Protectors that have insufficient earthing for surge protection are also a threat to signal propagation. Leviton's 'whole house' protector is often recommended in that newgroup.

Meanwhile, one 'whole house' protector is more than 99.5% protection. For an additional 2%, install plug-in protectors - that cost how much more and can even eat digital signals?

All appliances contain internal protection. The Homeplug should have the protection routinely found in all computers and other appliances. Protection that does what a power strip protector might do. Protection that would be overwhelmed only by the rare and destructive surge. A surge made irrelevant by earthing only one 'whole house' protector.

IEEE Green Book (Standard 142) defines how much protection is provided by earthing a 'whole hosue' protector:
> Still, a 99.5% protection level will reduce the incidence of direct strokes
> from one stroke per 30 years ... to one stroke per 6000 years ...
 
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